When we were just beginning to make our way in a big city, my husband and I accepted an offer to buy a lease for the building in which we had an apartment. It was an old mansion that had been remodeled into eight small units.
We bought the lease, using all the money we had, and things went well for several months.
Then, a city inspector came and said that the fire escapes were not up to code. He added that if we gave him $100, he wouldn't report the infraction.
My husband and I were desperate. We learned that the owner of the building had closed her eyes to the fact that it had been carved up into apartments. She would do nothing about the fire escapes. A couple of residents who claimed they knew how the city operated advised us to pay the bribe. We didn't know what else to do.
So my husband went down to the inspector's office and literally slipped him the cash under his desk.
Having had the experience where paying a bribe seemed the accepted way to operate, I can understand the pressure on individuals in many walks of life to succumb in order to progress or further their interest.
Not surprisingly, in a few months, the building was sold, and we lost our lease and the money we had spent to buy it. I've learned to be glad for this failure because it taught us early that unethical behavior would not benefit us in the long run. And over the years, I've learned an even deeper lesson: that human ethics alone is not the answer.
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper wrote, "Material philosophy, human ethics, scholastic theology, and physics have not sufficiently enlightened mankind." Then she asks, "When will the whole human race have one God, - an undivided affection that leaves the unreal material basis of things, for the spiritual foundation and superstructure that is real, right, and eternal?" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," pp. 340, 341).
We can begin to answer this challenging question right now by realizing more fully that there is but one God. This God is Mind. This divine Mind enlightens human thought with solutions to all problems.
Divine Mind is also divine Love, expressing itself in "undivided affection" that cares for everyone impartially. Laws inspired by Love truly bless all.
Human reasoning may result in portioning out a limited supply of good. But turning away from purely self-interested motivation, we see fairer solutions come to light.
While most individuals are in favor of congressional efforts to draft better laws to ensure ethical behavior, and of businesses, professional sports organizations, and religious institutions holding to a higher code of ethics, some recognize that this is not the final answer. Many laws, such as campaign finance reform and corporate policies, are sometimes found to be filled with loopholes.
This shouldn't be cause for pessimism about current efforts to legislate higher ethical standards or to change corporate policies. It's a call to more fully claim government in every aspect of life by the one universal God, to live it in our own lives, and to pray that our legislators, executives, as well as ourselves, be delivered from beliefs that the way of bribery or other unethical practices are inevitable.
The one God, whom the majority worship, will uplift and support ever higher, ever more just laws and policies, as our prayers are more prevalent in our thinking than views tied to self-interest. We all want good and ethical institutions, and we can have them. The spiritual foundation and superstructure are in place.
The integrity of the upright shall guide them.